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Dade City police see new Web site as crime-fighting tool

DADE CITY — Officer biographies, crime alerts and requests for house checks during a vacation will be a click away when the Dade City Police Department launches its new Web site next month.

The old site, just a mission statement, some photos and a March 2008 announcement about the hiring of a new police chief, will become an interactive page officers hope will make the department more accessible to residents.

"Information fights crime," said police Chief Ray Velboom. "The more information we can get out to residents, the better off we are."

The Web site, which is expected to launch in six weeks, is being designed by Saint Leo University undergraduates enrolled in a Web design and development elective.

Students enrolled in the spring and summer terms designed the city's new Web site, which launched last week.

Saint Leo provided the service for free, in exchange for the students' experience.

"This is a very hands-on project they can sink their teeth into," said professor Bob Robertson, director of the MBA program and overseer of the Dade City project.

A former city manager in several Canadian cities, including Hamilton, Ontario, Robertson is a proponent of building municipal Web sites to increase tourism and business in the area.

"If you build the site correctly and use it well, it actually helps to promote the city and get citizens more involved in the activities of their local government," he said.

The Police Department also hopes to cut costs with the site.

This summer, during a rash of counterfeiting cases, officers printed out fliers and delivered them to businesses in the area.

Now they hope to get the word out with a post to the Web site.

"You can do that in 10 minutes as opposed to three hours, and 40 miles and a tank of gas," Velboom said.

The department site will link from the main city Web page, www.dadecityfl.com. It will be up to city staff to maintain the sites.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Dade City police see new Web site as crime-fighting tool 10/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 11, 2009 9:12pm]

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